Crash victim in tribute as Northern Ireland Air Ambulance marks anniversary
A man who owes his life to the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance has paid tribute to the highly-trained helicopter medic team who raced to save him after a car crash in 2017.
Tom Hadden, from Eglish, Co Tyrone, is now nine months into rehabilitation after he was injured in a serious road traffic collision last November.
This week the air ambulance celebrated its first year of operation, in which it flew 380 emergency missions - and Mr Hadden is full of praise for the life-saving team.
"It's been a long and ongoing road to recovery," he said.
"I owe great thanks to the air ambulance team, as without the initial intervention it could have been a very different ending for me.
"I would also like to acknowledge the work of all the medical staff and teams in my recovery."
Mr Hadden wanted to give something back to the crew who'd rushed him to hospital.
"About six months after the accident, my family and I organised a fundraiser as a gesture of thanks to the air ambulance and we raised £7,000.
"We were thrilled to see how the community came together in recognising the importance of this vital service."
From its base near Lisburn, the air ambulance can reach any part of Northern Ireland in approximately twenty-five minutes.
Its primary role is to deliver advanced critical care, benefiting those whose lives are at serious risk following significant injury or trauma, by bringing urgent medical assistance directly to the patient at the scene.
Clinical lead for the team, Dr Darren Monaghan, said: "Working alongside our road crew colleagues, we are able to attend patients critically injured as a result of major trauma, for example road traffic collisions, falls from heights, or serious agricultural injuries.
"During the first year, our team have been able to reach hundreds of patients - be it at the roadside, farmyard or even the city centre, providing clinical interventions and life-saving medical treatment at the scene and in the air.
"We know that patients are alive today due to the care we provide in conjunction with the whole health service.
"We'd like to say a huge thank you to the population of Northern Ireland for their support and donations which allow this lifesaving service to continue.
Also paying tribute to the air ambulance team on the anniversary was John McMullan, whose son Conor (12) was the first patient to benefit from the air ambulance service on July 22, 2017, after it was scrambled to help the young lad who'd been injured in a farm accident.
Mr McMullan said yesterday: "We are one year on from a day that could have had a very different outcome had it not been for a service that I, like many others at that time, had no knowledge of and which I can now say with confidence played a critical role in saving the life of my eldest son, Conor."
In its first year, farming incidents accounted for 10% of air ambulance call-outs, the Health & Safety Executive for NI revealed yesterday.
HSENI chief executive Keith Morrison urged farmers to make safety their priority.
"The majority of serious injuries and deaths on our farms are caused by slurry, animals, falls or equipment," he said.
"The air ambulance and our other emergency services save lives and reduce the impact of the most serious injuries.
"We would appeal to the farming community to consider the risks you are taking on a daily basis.
"Please 'Stop and Think SAFE' before starting any job on a farm," he said.
"The air ambulance is a vital emergency service - but please do whatever you can to avoid it having to land anywhere near your farm."